AMERICAN CANYON — Raizel Cherisse Dimalanta will graduate this spring from American Canyon High as one of the top volleyball players in school history.
Dimalanta, a setter, has the school record for career service aces with 168. A three-year starter, she also has compiled other impressive totals: 660 set assists, 451 digs and 168 kills.
“She’s very gifted in all things,” said Wolves’ head coach Katy O’Brien. “But what she excels in is court sense. She knows where the ball needs to go and when, whether it’s serving or setting or passing or hitting.
“She can see the court and say, ‘OK, it needs to go here to be effective.’ Especially with a smaller team, you have to be smart like that. She is very confident and very competitive.”
Dimalanta will take her all-around game and outstanding skills to the next level, as she will join UC Merced in the fall. With her family, school staff and friends looking on in the school theater, Dimalanta signed a national letter of intent last week to play for the Bobcats.
She has been accepted academically and plans to major in human biology. She will play setter at UC Merced.
“I’m really excited for that challenge,” said Dimalanta, who will receive an academic scholarship.
She accepted UC Merced’s offer and has a roster spot for the 2019 season. The Bobcats play in the California Pacific Conference, an NAIA league that includes Pacific Union College of Angwin.
UC Merced lost in the semifinals of the CalPac Championships last year, falling to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 3-0, and finishing the season 11-14 overall, 9-8 in the league.
It was the fifth straight postseason appearance for UC Merced.
Dimalanta was named to the All-Solano County Athletic Conference team and was selected as the most valuable setter of the SCAC as a junior in 2017. She was also a Player of the Year finalist on the Napa Valley Register’s All-Napa County team. As a co-captain, she had 105 service aces and 301 assists.
She was among the finalists for Defensive Player of the Year on the 2018 All-Napa County team.
“She really set the tone for the expectations of what our program stands for and what we want to be,” said O’Brien. “She showed the younger girls coming in this is what we do here and this is how we run things. She is very well-rounded.
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“I’m incredibly proud of her,” O’Brien added.
Dimalanta played very well in her senior season for American Canyon (6-21 overall, 0-12 Vine Valley Athletic League). She had 41 kills, 160 digs, and 225 set assists.
Dimalanta had 11 aces, 14 digs and 34 assists as American Canyon finished fifth in the Stockton Classic, which was held at Weston Ranch High in Galt.
Dimalanta had 14 digs and 24 assists at the Pleasant Valley Classic in Chico.
She had four aces, six kills, 17 digs and 26 assists, helping American Canyon, the host team, to a seventh-place finish at the NorCal Invitational.
Dimalanta had 11 digs, three assists and one ace in a 3-0 VVAL loss to Casa Grande-Petaluma.
She had five aces and four assists in a 3-0 loss to Casa Grande.
Dimalanta said she has enjoyed playing other positions on the floor for the Wolves.
“I like to try to understand the other perspectives on the court, so it helps me become better and it helps my teammates become better and we become better as a team,” she said. “If they’re successful, then our whole team is successful.
“When I get to play other positions … that’s how I know how to adjust to how I play and for my teammates.”
She added that she’s grown a lot as a student-athlete at American Canyon.
“For the past four years, this is where I have truly grown, both academically and athletically, because this is where I have found how to use my voice, how to become a leader, and how to truly view the court in a different way,” said Dimalanta, who was joined at the signing ceremony by her mom and dad, Cheryl Dimalanta and Ramir Dimalanta, her brothers, Rian Dimalanta and Raphael Dimalanta, and her cousin, Hailey Pecson.
Dimalanta plays club volleyball for Xceleration Volleyball Club, which is based in Martinez, and Club Solano Volleyball.